OKEMOS, Mich. (WLNS) – The Okemos School Board unanimously agreed on Monday to drop the “Chief/Chieftains” mascot and logos.
The school board has not decided on a new mascot.
Okemos Board Member, Katie Cavanaugh, said she wants to make this change, but doesn’t want to erase the district’s history of once having the Chiefs mascot.
“I think its really important to acknowledge why we made the change. Make sure that that’s somewhere visible,” Board Member Cavanaugh said.
Calls for dropping the Chief mascot go as far back as the 1980s where a committee was tasked with exploring the possibility of changing the logo. Those opposed to the Chief mascot cite the perpetuation of negative racial stereotypes surrounding Indigenous peoples.
The school district’s current superintendent, John Hood, has been a vocal advocate for changing the mascot.
Board Member, Andrew Phelps, said while some may think the “Chiefs” name is honoring Chief Okemos, it is important to acknowledge how its actually perceived by the indigenous community.
“I think it’s clear that not only is it not honoring them.. it’s disrespectful. And its offensive to them. We can’t honor somebody in the way that they think is disrespectful or offensive,” Board Member Phelps said.
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